NEW DELHI: Aviation regulator DGCA on Monday barred airline officials, including pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers, from travelling in the cockpit when they are off-duty or on leave. The regulator's directions came after an off-duty pilot of Air India tested positive in a pre-flight alcohol test on Saturday when he was scheduled to travel in the cockpit of a plane from Delhi to Bengaluru.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked the national carrier to take strict action against the pilot. This practice of off-duty or on leave officials is in violation of the Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) 3 of 1997, it said.
The DGCA also said this practice "provides cover to officials who are authorised to travel in the cockpit while on leave or off-duty and detected BA (breath-analyzer) positive".
In an order, the regulator said it has come to its notice that the Operations Manual Part-A of Air India permits travel of airline officials such as pilots and AMEs (aircraft maintenance engineers) in cockpit "even when they are on leave or have not been assigned any duty whatsoever prescribed in AIC 3 of 1997".
The regulator added, "The portion of the Operations Manual Part-A so far as it is in violation of AIC 3 of 1997, is void ab-initio and stands repudiated with immediate effect. All airline operators are hereby directed to amend their Operations Manual Part-A to align with AIC 3 of 1997 with regard to travel in the cockpit and submit to the DGCA for approval."
The DGCA said all airline operators were directed to ensure that no travel in cockpit is permitted in violation of AIC 3 of 1997.
AIC 3 of 1997, issued by the DGCA, clearly states that airline official can take the extra seat (called jump seat) in the aircraft only in certain specific conditions such as "when necessary for safe operation of aircraft" or "better practical understanding and knowledge of the functions of the instruments."